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An entertaining concoction with plenty of twists on the way to a nicely unexpected resolution.

Science fiction, the paranormal, cults, and oddball characters collide in this amiable thriller.

Something very bad has happened to young Wesley Keener. He’s cracked his skull open—just how is a matter requiring some fact-finding—and now he’s empty of everything but a bright light, something like the trunk of the car at the center of Alex Cox’s film Repo Man. “Hollow….They hollowed him out.” So thinks Jay Albert Shenk, a Los Angeles ambulance-chaser attorney who sports a tiny ponytail and a generally good-natured attitude, turning competitive only when he’s up against lesser lawyers. He’s a fine and mostly honest fellow in whom Winters, an expert practitioner of odd scenarios in books such as Underground Airlines (2016), invests much attention and character development. In company with his adopted son, Ruben, a grocery-store clerk—born in Vietnam, raised Jewish, and nicknamed “Rabbi”—Shenk tries to ferret out what it was, exactly, that happened to poor Wesley while filing a medical malpractice against the doctors—the “they” in question—who treated him once he was rushed to the hospital. “Shenk had been doing this for nineteen years…and he could give you the lowdown on every sawbones, on every hospital and clinic and urgent care in Southern California,” Winters writes. The doctors range from weary to evasive to self-appointed deity, but they’re the least of Shenk’s problems: Both he and Ruben are visited by spectral cultists who think Wesley’s shell might just harbor a portal to another world. Wesley’s dad is a handful, the expert witness Shenk hires turns out to be a slippery character, and Wesley’s sister, Evie, “not a rock star, not exactly, but she was a certified indie darling, her star ascendant,” has plenty of complicating secrets of her own. Winters’ lively tale jumps from decade to decade and all over the map as everyone grows older except Wesley, with a growing trail of bodies and suspects to mark the story’s passage.

An entertaining concoction with plenty of twists on the way to a nicely unexpected resolution.

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-50544-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A great premise leads through all the twists you’d expect to a thoroughly muddy final movement.

Sports agent Myron Bolitar meets the Setup Serial Killer, who’s found a highly effective way to keep anyone from connecting the dots.

There’s no arguing with DNA evidence, the ultimate forensic clincher. So when basketball player Greg Downing’s DNA is found on the scene where retired model Cecelia Callister and her son, Clay, were killed, the FBI comes calling on Myron to ask where they can find Greg. Myron’s a reasonable person to ask because Greg was his schoolmate and former client, the man who wooed and won Myron’s girlfriend away from him and made her Emily Downing. Try as he might, though, Myron can’t help much beyond repeating the obvious: Greg died three years ago, and his body was cremated. Since the Feds aren’t about to give up their search, Myron and his partner, financial advisor Win Lockwood, decide they’d better see if they can get ahead of this story by confirming or contradicting the story of Greg’s death. Meantime, a series of interleaved episodes show the killer eliminating a series of primary targets and framing secondary targets so convincingly for the murders, with special thanks to planted DNA, that it never occurs to the police to connect crimes that were so readily solved on their own. Complications arise when Myron’s thrown together with Jeremy Downing, the son he fathered in a pre-wedding tryst with Emily and then passed off as Greg’s, and when the allies of mob boss Joseph “Joey the Toe” Turant, who was locked up four years ago after his DNA-fueled conviction for the murder of Jordan Kravat, decide to lean on Myron to get him to reveal where Greg is.

A great premise leads through all the twists you’d expect to a thoroughly muddy final movement.

Pub Date: May 14, 2024

ISBN: 9781538756317

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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